Ashleigh Barty is the deserving world #1. Any doubt over whether that was the case should have been eradicated in Miami earlier this month. If she still had any doubters after defending her title there, they have surely been silenced now. The Aussie is the WTA Porsche Tennis Grand Prix champion after a brilliant week of tennis. In her first clay court tournament since 2019, Barty beat big names, survived scares and more to lift the title in Stuttgart. The trophy is her second of the year after repeating as champion in Miami. She will surely lift more this year if she continues playing at this level. Putting potential titles aside for the moment, let’s take a look at her amazing run this week.
Comfortable First Match Followed by Big Scare Against Karolina Pliskova
Barty breezed through her first clay court match in nearly two years with a straight sets win over Laura Siegemund. The German is no slouch on clay, but was no match for Barty’s combination of power and variety. Given how impressive she was in the round of 16, few expected Barty to struggle so much against an out of form Karolina Pliskova in the quarterfinals. Pliskova served for the match in the final set of their encounter, with big serving and shot-making carrying her to the brink of a needed win against a top player.
It wasn’t meant to be for the Czech though, as Barty dug deep and won four games in a row to close out the match. Pliskova gave Barty a big scare in that match. However, the top seed stuck to her game plan and never lost belief in her ability to turn things around. Few expected it, but being pushed so hard set her up well for what was to come in the tournament.
Two Epic Three-set Matches Needed for Barty to Win it All
Elina Svitolina was Barty’s next opponent in Stuttgart. The Ukrainian played brilliant tennis all week and looked dangerous going into the match. She won 11 of her last 14 games against defending champion Petra Kvitova to rally from a set down and book her place in the semifinals. There she took the first set off Barty and looked favourite to move on to the final. However, Barty again stuck to her guns and turned the match on its head. In the final she faced an red hot Aryna Sabalenka who seems to have found a winning formula on clay despite previous struggles on the surface.
Barty again lost the opening set of the match. However, she quickly put any fears of an upset to bed with a comprehensive 6-0 second set. That was followed up with a comfortable 6-3 third set and another trophy for the Aussie pocket rocket. Barty fell short of winning it all at the Australian Open this year. However, if her play this week is anything to go by, she must be the favourite to lift a second French Open title in 2021. She technically never lost her Roland Garros crown as she didn’t take part in the 2020 version of the tournament. Given how at home she looks on clay – the surface she previously liked least of all – she may well take her crown back off Iga Swiatek in a month’s time.
Whether she does or not remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain. Ashleigh Barty is your 2021 WTA Porsche Tennis Grand Prix champion and deservingly so. It’s been a great week in Stuttgart which bodes well for the rest of the clay court swing. If this week is anything to go by, we’re in for some incredible women’s tennis in the coming weeks.